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THE SAGACIOUS DOG. 




LONDON : DEAN & SON, 
11, Ludgate Hill. 

23 










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THE SAGACIOUS DOG. 




A friend of mine, owned many years 
ago a Newfoundland dog of remarkable 
size and beauty. Carlo, for that was his 
name, possessing an uncommon share of 



THE SAGACIOUS DOG. 3 

the docility, sagacity, and attachment for 
persons characteristic of his race, was, of 
course, a prime favourite with his master 
and the family. His usual places of resort 
were the yard, and immediately round the 
family residence. Beyond these he seldom 
strayed, either in pursuit of game or to 
follow a person he liked. 

His master went one day into the 
woods, near the house, to shoot squirrels. 
Carlo, impelled by an uncommon freak of 
playfulness or affection, followed him, but 
kept some distance in the rear, as if con- 
scious that, being uninvited, he came 
unwelcome to the sport, a few caressing 
words and pats upon the head sufficed to 
restore his confidence, and he trotted along 
close upon the heels of his master, stop- 
ping when he did, but never venturing to 
circle through the woods in quest of 
game. 

A large fox- squirrel ran up a tree close 
by the sportsman, who levelled his gun 
and shot it dead The noise which it 
made in falling upon the dry leaves 
attracted the notice of Carlo, who rushed 



4 THE SAGACIOUS DOG. 

forward, seized the carcass, and began to 
shake and rend it with great violence. 
The voice of his master commanding him 
to put it down was unheeded. The de- 




structive instinct* of the dog triumphed 
ovur his habit of prompt obedience, and 
he tore the squirrel into fragments, and 
scattered them upon the ground at the 
base of the tree. 



THE SAGACIOUS DOG, 5 

Irritated at the behaviour of his favour- 
ite, the sportsman whipped him severely 
with a branch which he tore from a bush, 
holding him by the leather collar which 
was fastened around his neck. The dog 
howled most piteously during the infliction 
of the punishment, and ran back home the 
moment he was released. 

It was quickly noticed by the family 
that some great change had come over the 
gay and frolicsome Carlo. He discon- 
tinued his almost constant visits to the 
house to receive the caresses of the family. 
With drooping head and tail, and most 
rueful expression of face, he glided mourn- 
fully about the premises, and when called, 
especially by his master, would hasten to 
hide himself from sight in some covert 
place about the yard. He showed by his 
actions as plainly as words could have 
spoken it, that he felt himself in deep 
disgrace. As he persistently rejected all 
overtures of reconciliation made by his 
master, the affair seemed to be as incapa- 
ble of adjustment as it was of explanation, 



G 



THE SAGACIOUS DOG, 



between the offending and the offended 
party. 

After several days spent in this way, 
Carlo disappeared, and was not to be 
found anywhere upon the premises. Could 
it be possible that he had gone into 
voluntary exile to atone for his fault ? Or 




had he, imitating the folly of lordly man, 
made away with his own life, to cancel his 
disgrace and escape the taunts of his 
fellow-dogs? There was no end to the 
conjectures of the family a* to the cause 



THE SAGACIOUS DOG. 7 

of his disappearance, and no end to the 
search for his retreat. But he came not 
to the accustomed call, and there was 
neither footprint nor sign to tell whither 
he had gone. 

In the evening of the second day of his 
absence, his master was seated in the front 
piazza of the family mansion, engaged in 
reading, when Carlo suddenly walked in 
with a large fox-squirrel in his mouth. 
Going straight up to his master, he depo- 
sited the carcass at his feet, looked up into 
his face, and gave a few short, cheerful 
yelps, wagging his tail all the time, and 
looking the very picture of canine content 
and delight. The squirrel had evidently 
just been killed, as the body was still 
warm, and showed unmistakable signs 
that life had been extinguished by the 
pressure of teeth and claws. 

Carlo at once recovered his cheerfulness, 
and resumed his former habits. He had 
erred, repented, and atoned for his offence, 
and remained ever after to the end of his 
days a privileged favourite in the family 
of his owner. 



THE SAGACIOUS DOG. 

Strange as this instance of canine saga- 
city may seem to those who deny to dogs 
even the faintest glimmer of the rational 
faculty, it is nevertheless not more strange 
than true, since the facts herein detailed 
are related by one of the most respectable 
families of the South. How Carlo came 
in possession of the squirrel, has never 
been satisfactorily ascertained. All the 
probabilities are in favour of the supposi- 
tion that he caught it in the woods by 
stratagem or by fleetness of foot. 

But how did the sagacious animal reach 
the conclusion that his offence was to be 
atoned for by the return of a whole 
squirrel for the one he had torn? How 
came he to know or believe that the 
offence either required or admitted of 
atonement by the restoration of like for 
like ? There's the rub. For ourselves, we 
neither concede nor deny a qualified ra- 
tionality to the lower orders of creation, 
but define our position in relation to the 
question by saying in the language of good 
old Sir Roger de Coverly, that " much 
may be said on both sides of it.' 1 



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